Motorola Moto G6 Play review

GSMArena team, 18 May 2018.

Near-Stock Android Oreo, with a few additions

One of the long-standing staples of Motorola's smartphone business has always been a clean Android experience. The Moto G6 Play continues the fan-favoured tradition as well. It boots an Android 8.0 Oreo ROM, that, for the most part, is almost identical to what you would find on a Google Pixel device.

Lock screen - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Home - Motorola Moto G6 Play review App drawer - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Lock screen • Home • App drawer

Other standard, AOSP aspects of the UI include the notification shade and quick toggles area. Also, the way the OS handles its multi-windows capabilities and the rolodex recent app switcher.

Recent apps - Motorola Moto G6 Play review notifications and quick toggles - Motorola Moto G6 Play review notifications and quick toggles - Motorola Moto G6 Play review notifications and quick toggles - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Recent apps • notifications and quick toggles

There are, however, some tweaks, sprinkled in in a really subtle manner. We definitely appreciate Motorola's efforts to keep the Moto assistant additions tidy and well organized under one roof. Nothing is shoved into your face, without asking for permission first. During initial setup, the OS lets you willingly opt into some bloat, or alternatively, pick up the useful apps from the list. It even asks permission to recommend new apps to you in the future.

Moto initial setup - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto initial setup - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto initial setup - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto initial setup - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Moto initial setup

Like we mentioned already, all the other additional features are neatly packed into the Moto app. It has a couple of tabs. Suggestions offers a card-style interface with various tweak and settings advice, Moto surfaces for you, based on your activities. These are organized into subject themes, of sorts. Then there is the features tab, chunk full of specific Moto features.

Moto suggestion screen - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto suggestion screen - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Moto suggestion screen

Going down the list, first we have the "Moto Key" feature, which basically extends you fingerprint authentication, with password management and autofill capabilities for the web and even authentication for supported Windows devices.

Moto Key - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Key - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Key - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Key - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Key - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Moto Key

Since the Moto G6 Play has its fingerprint reader mounted on the back, Motorola decided to skip on all the navigation gestures, present on its regular and Plus sibling. It does make more sense to try and navigate the UI on those two, using the front-mounted readers.

Moto Display - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Display - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Display - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Display - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Moto Display

Moto Display is another long-standing proprietary feature that's being continuously refined. It's sort of like an always-on display, giving you notification at a glance, only it's not always on. It only lights up just when a new notification comes up or if you wave your hand in front of the phone. On this screen, you can act upon the notifications, ignore or straight-up dismiss them. There's not much in the way of customization the way you can change the Samsung Galaxy's always on display - the implementation is more like Pixel 2's.

Moto Actions - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Actions - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Actions - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Actions - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Moto Actions

Also part of Moto Display is Night Display - the phone will display warmer colors to filter out the blue light that's known to mess up your sleep according to research.

Moto Actions - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Actions - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Actions - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Moto Actions - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Moto Actions

In the Moto actions category, you'll find gestures like 'pick up to stop ringing', which most phones have, but a couple that are unique to Moto include "chop twice for flashlight", and "twist for quick capture".

The default app package is plucked straight out of AOSP. That includes things like the dialer, clock, calendar, etc.

Call app - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Messages - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Calculator - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Calendar - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Clock - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Call app • Messages • Calculator • Calendar • Clock

You also get a fairly complete set of Google's cloud-based office apps out of the box. Including Sheets and Docs.

Google apps - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Google apps - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Google apps

For the sake of thoroughness, we will note that despite its apparently sincere efforts to limit bloat on the G6 Play, Motorola did pre-load a few other apps as well, like Microsoft Outlook and LinkedIn. These are obviously the aftermath of some partnership deals and could be considered bloat by many users. Still, a couple of apps to uninstall is hardly an issue, nor a blemish on Moto's overall vanilla Android set up. So long as things are kept in check, that is.

Google Photos - Motorola Moto G6 Play review Google Play Music - Motorola Moto G6 Play review
Google Photos • Google Play Music

As for multimedia, it's all in the hands of Google and its default apps. Google Photos is in charge of gallery-related tasks and video playback, while Google Play Music is the audio player. There's an FM radio too, with RDS and recording capability.

What is custom is the system-wide Dolby Audio sound control with presets for movies, music, games, and voice, plus two custom slots. The Intelligent Equalizer will adapt to the content, and you can bias it in three different ways, plus you can also tweak a 10-band EQ yourself.

 - Motorola Moto G6 Play review  - Motorola Moto G6 Play review  - Motorola Moto G6 Play review  - Motorola Moto G6 Play review  - Motorola Moto G6 Play review

Like we mentioned in the audio quality section, the equalizer does make a tangible difference to quality and even boosts volume a little bit. Meaning, there is no real reason not to keep it on at all times.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Motorola Moto G6 Play was never meant to be a performance powerhouse in any way, shape or forms. Still, in 2018, we are finally a bit past the days when you had to take anything you could get for $200, or so. That being said, we approached the Snapdragon 430, 3GB RAM review unit with clear expectations of a smooth overall experience. Definitely not unreasonable, especially considering the near-stock Moto Android ROM.

To our surprise, however, the Moto G6 Play experiences some noticeable performance dips, even when dealing with everyday tasks.

Frankly, it's an odd position to find a current Moto G device in. While far from ideal, we know for a fact that the Snapdragon 430 has plenty of power to drive a fluent UI experience, if nothing else. The raw performance numbers out of the Moto G6 Play indicate the same as well. So, we can only surmise, the occasional hiccups and dropped animation frames while browsing the menus and opening apps are due to some odd optimization issue. Hopefully one that gets cleared up quickly.

Motorola Moto G6 Play review

Before we move on to the actual scores, it is worth noting that certain US carriers and retailers will be offering the Moto G6 Play with an even less-powerful Snapdragon 427 chipset. You should probably stay away from it, if possible. It only has four Cortex-A53 cores and the GPU is downgraded from the Adreno 505 to the Adreno 308. Definitely not ideal.

Speaking of the CPU, the non-US Moto G6 Play, we are testing, has eight Cortex-A53 cores at its disposal, clocked at 1.4 GHz. While that overall configuration is pretty popular in the budget market segment, 1.4 GHz is a pretty low clock.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Huawei P Smart
    939
  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    882
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    877
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    874
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    848
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    766
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    734
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    665
  • LG Q6
    652
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    639
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    635

But even with a level playing field, competing against other Snapdragon 430 devices, we can see the Moto G6 Play loose some ground.

More compound benchmarks, like AnTuTu tell a pretty similar story. Even the older Moto G4 seems to fair better, overall, with its Snapdragon 617 chipset.

AnTuTu 6

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    64360
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    63019
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    61762
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    57012
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    56136
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    49094
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    47495
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    47283
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    46949
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    46822
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    45742
  • Moto G Plus
    45690
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    40735
  • LG Q6
    40558

Basemark OS 2.0 is a bit more favourable towards the Moto G6 Play, but the estimated performance ball-park is still pretty much the same.

Basemark OS 2.0

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    1525
  • Huawei P Smart
    1486
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    1309
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    1262
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    1226
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    1222
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    1007
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    999
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    922
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    899
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    389
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    349
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    341

An Adreno 505 GPU is tasked with pushing pixels to Moto's new extra-tall display. It's no powerhouse either, but it still has enough "umph" to feel comfortable at 1080p resolutions. That being said, the HD+ (720 x 1440 pixel) panel on the Moto G6 Play leaves some breathing room. It's the reason behind the noticeably higher on-screen rendering numbers.

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    14
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    9.9
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    9.8
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    9.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    9.4
  • Huawei P Smart
    8.7
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    8.4
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    7.1
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    7.1
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    7.1
  • Moto G Plus
    6.6
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    6.5
  • LG Q6
    5.8
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    5.1
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    5.1
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    4.9

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    18
  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    13
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    13
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    10
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    9.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    9.6
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    9.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    9.4
  • Huawei P Smart
    8.3
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    7.9
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    7.5
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    7
  • Moto G Plus
    7
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    6.8
  • LG Q6
    5.4
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    5.1

We've said it before and we'll say it again - synthetics can only go so far in painting an accurate real-world performance picture. Modern game engines have become exceptionally good at dynamically scaling back details and overall rendering loads co accommodate even the most "potato-level" of hardware.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    9.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    6.5
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    6.4
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    6.4
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    6.1
  • Huawei P Smart
    5.4
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    4.8
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    4.6
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    4.6
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    4.6
  • Moto G Plus
    4.2
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    4.2
  • LG Q6
    3.8
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    3.3
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.2
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.2

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    13
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    10
  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    9.3
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    7.3
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    7.2
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    6.9
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    6.3
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    6.2
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    5
  • Huawei P Smart
    5
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    4.6
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    4.5
  • Moto G Plus
    4.5
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    4.5
  • LG Q6
    3.6
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    3.3

Even with its standing UI fluidity issues, we had no problem playing casual games on the G6 Play. The extra screen width and ample room to grab the handset on either side and rest you thumbs still score high in our book as gaming quality of live improvements.

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    5.6
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    4.6
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    3.5
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    3.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    3.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    3.4
  • Huawei P Smart
    3.2
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    2.6
  • Moto G Plus
    2.6
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.6
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    2.5
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    2.5
  • LG Q6
    2.1
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    1.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    1.9

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    6.8
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    5.3
  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    5.2
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    4.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.9
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    3.8
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    3.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    3.4
  • Huawei P Smart
    2.9
  • Moto G Plus
    2.8
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.8
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    2.7
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    2.5
  • LG Q6
    2
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    1.9

Once we get to OpenGL ES 3.1 tests, frame rates understandably tapered off. Still, while it might be tempting to look for better raw performance in older GPUs and consequently chipset packages, the Adreno 505 still has the advantage of supporting modern standards, like Vulkan 1.0 and OpenGL ES 3.1 to begin with. API's modern versions of Android rely on and build upon constantly.

Basemark ES 3.1 / Metal

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    187
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    144
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    139
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    137
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    136
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    100
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    100
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    93
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    92

On a side note, while the quoted GFX 3.1 Car scenes frame rates are still far from acceptable for any king of actual gaming experience, it was interesting to see the Moto G6 Play out-inch its more powerful G6 Plus sibling on resolution difference alone.

Basemark X seems to offer a better and more generalized picture of where the Moto G6 Play stands in terms of pure graphical prowess, without taking into consideration and resolution variances.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G6 Plus
    14357
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
    10484
  • Xiaomi Mi A1
    10472
  • Motorola Moto G5S Plus
    10466
  • Xiaomi Redmi 5
    9953
  • Huawei P Smart
    8834
  • Huawei Honor 6X
    8458
  • Motorola Moto G6 Play
    7620
  • Motorola Moto G5S
    7558
  • Nokia 6 (Global version)
    7516
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    6932
  • Moto G Plus
    6769
  • LG Q6
    6336
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
    5489
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    5383
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    5160

All things considered, the performance aspects of the Moto G6 Play are sort of a mixed bag for us. On the one hand, everything seems to work well enough. On the other, it is unfortunate to see a vanilla Android experience suffer from lack of optimization, especially on entry-level hardware that doesn't have any siginifcant power margins to spare.

Based on track record alone, we are willing to put our faith in a swift fix for any performance issues, currently observable on the G6 Play. Failing that, it should be noted that these are minor to the point where we can learn to live with them ourselves. Still, we would be lying if we said you can't get a smoother experience for your money elsewhere.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

One really annoying feature is that when you turn up the volume to hear it ring it only turns up media volume and says silent on ring. I know it's multifunctional but it's primary user should still be a phone.

  • Muhammad hussain

One of the best make from Moto .....the display touch very beautiful ...good one at very low price ..

  • M.Kamran Khan

Its Internel Space 2GB or 3 GB